How Tech Companies Use ‘Dark Patterns’ To Trick You

Websites like Amazon, Facebook, and Google don’t just appear: people make them. Everything about their design is intentional, is serving some kind of purpose—and sometimes those designs deliberately make things hard in order to change your behavior.

These sorts of designs are called “dark patterns,” and they’re everywhere. Here’s Evan Puschak, outlining the issue beautifully on his YouTube channel The Nerdwriter:

The video starts by showing how hard it is to shut down an Amazon account, but the most devious example to me is Two Dots. Designers deliberately set up an expectation—green button means continue—only to use that same color button to trigger a purchase. It reminds me of those Windows installers that change your default search engine, all because you clicked “Next” five times without reading anything.

Pay attention and you’ll notice these sorts of dark patterns are everywhere. It’s probably time we all started calling tech companies out for them.

Justin Pot is a staff writer for How-To Geek, and a technology enthusiast who lives in Hillsboro, Oregon. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, if you want. You don't have to.